It’s been a fortnight since Prithviraj Tondaiman resumed training at his personal range but the international trap shooter says after a long period of inactivity, getting back to his best will take time.
In the second week of March, Tondaiman, 33, dominated the first Olympic selection trials in men’s trap event here at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Ranges. Due to the nationwide lockdown to combat Covid-19, the second trial was cancelled. The national camp got called off and the Tokyo Olympics deferred to 2021.
The national camp is yet to resume so Tondaiman is using the facility at home.
“It was a difficult time in April and May. It was traumatic as I was staying in Chennai (which has reported over 42,000 cases and is locked down now). At the time, I couldn’t get a (travel) pass for my farm house in Trichy (Tiruchirappalli) which is (almost) 350km from Chennai,” said Tondaiman.
“Moving out of Chennai to a safer zone to Trichy was a big relief. There is no travel restriction within the Trichy region,” he said.
Soon after talking about the difficulties, the professional athlete in him kicked in and Tondaiman spoke about adapting to the altered circumstances. “It has been a good lesson,” said Tondaiman, adding that he is hopeful of dealing with the “challenging situation” athletes across the globe are facing.
Since the international calendar has been cancelled, Tondaiman said: “I’m in no mood to push but plan to steadily build up as we don’t have any big competition in 2020.”
Seven summers ago, Tondaiman’s family decided to construct trap and skeet ranges in one part of their 60-acre farm house in Pudukkottai, nearly 30km from Tiruchirappalli. “The personal range proved to be a big support. When I’m not attending the national camp, I would often have to travel long distance either to Bengaluru or Hyderabad for training. Thus, my parents decided to build a personal range,” he said.
“There is one range in Chennai but it’s operational on weekends that too for two-three hours a day. Hence it wasn’t practical to train closer home.”
“The best part is you can train as much as you can and at whatever time of the day. You can also experiment as there is ample time at your disposal,” said Tondaiman, adding, that it has made a big difference in his overall performance.
According to Tondaiman, at national camps, “because of limited time, personal adjustment isn’t practical.” The emphasis at camps is to get ready for competitions, he said.
Tondaiman said he plans to expand the range which is open to local shooters. “Currently, two or three local shooters come to train at different times of the day to maintain social distance,” he said. “Another shotgun range is coming up in Coimbatore. It will further give fillip to trap event in the southern part of the country.”